How fast are sea levels changing?

Article by Hazell Ransome.

Sea levels have gone up and down significantly throughout Earth’s history. 120,000 years ago (during the time between the last 2 ice ages) the average sea level across the globe was over 5 metres higher than it is now [1]!

For the past few thousand years, sea levels have been stable [2], but since 1901 the average global sea level has risen by 19 centimetres [1].

You can see a range of possible forecasts for sea level rise in the graph we posted [3].

The average rate of increase in sea levels since 1901 is 1.7 millimetres per year [1], but if we take the average over 2007 to 2016 this shoots up to roughly 4 millimetres per year [4].

This increase in the rate of sea level rise is due to more ice melting from ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica [5].

By 2100, if there is no change in climate policy, sea levels are expected to rise by 15 millimetres per year, and several centimetres a year by 2200 [6]!

References

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